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Chronicling the Schizophrenic ramblings of an individual too freaking stubborn to use emulators and has a passionate desire to collect and play all sorts of retro games and consoles.
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Retro Console Collecting - Part VII (The Genesis/Mega Drive)

Posted 2nd February 2011 at 12:46 AM by Schizo
Updated 2nd February 2011 at 12:48 AM by Schizo

Remember the last post I made, about how there were all sorts of different AC Adapters and compatibility issues with the Genesis?

This next bit might make that all seem simple in comparison.

So, with that out of the way...let's get started talking about the Genesis (or Mega Drive, depending on your country of origin). There were three different models produced. The first one was the one I lusted after the most, mostly because it was the same model I played on with my best buddy when I was growing up. I had the SNES, he had the Genesis. It was a great working arrangement. Later on, he had the snowmobile in the winter, and I had the jet ski in the summer...but I'm running off on a tangent here. Anyway, the Genesis Model 1 was significant in that it did not output stereo sound, unless you used the front mounted headphone jack (and we'll get into why this is a bit of a PITA later)

Yeah, I was playing with "High Definition Graphics" waaaay before your fancy HDTVs

Later on in the console's life cycle, Sega had created a second, slimmer version of the Genesis, the Model 2. This device did away with the headphone jack on the front and incorporated stereo sound from the start. I was less interested in this model, and though in some respects it is easier to find, it just didn't give the same nostalgic value for me, since all my friends had the Model 1 Genesis.

No sir, I didn't like it.

There actually was a 3rd model of Genesis, but it was licensed out by Sega to a 3rd party manufacturer at the very end of the console's life cycle. I really wasn't interested in that at all, so we'll just move on here.

So, as many of you may already know, Sega was the undisputed king of the console add-on and accessory. I could devote an entire post to just some of the crazy devices Sega came out with in the 90's, but that'll be for a later time.

Hey guys, we beat the Kinect to the market by 15 years, we're totally going to be the market leader with this, right? Right? Guys?

One of the first major add-ons for the Genesis was the Sega CD. Now, the Sega CD did boast some additional hardware processing power and improvements in audio, however the biggest leap forward was the sheer size of games that could not be created. Genesis cartridges at the time were usually about 8 megabit or so. The Sega CD allowed developers to create games up to about 650 megabytes. There were two different models of that available, the model 1 was produced in fewer numbers than the model 2. The model 2 sat beside the condole and had a manual top-load cd design. The model 1 sat below the system and was a front-mount motorized cd loader. It wasn't too hard to figure out which one I wanted.

In the mid-90s, Sega was starting to feel pressure from some of its competitors that now had newer hardware out (like the Atari Jaguar and the 3DO), and the next-generation Sega Saturn still was in development. So Sega released a stopgap in the form of the 32X.

The 32X was an addon for the Genesis that turned it into a "32-bit console". Really, it was nothing more than an attempt to keep the Genesis relevant until the Saturn came along. It never did well, even though there were some great games made for it (Star Wars Arcade and Virtua Racer come to mind), mostly because gamers were now saving up for the next batch of consoles.

Yup, this is the current setup I have now. No, this is not my *actual* hardware, but you get the idea.

So, as I had posted a while back, I managed a tremendous haul off of ebay, where I picked up two Genesis model 1 consoles, a model 1 Sega CD, and a 32X. I was ecstatic. However, I was missing many of the necessary hookups. What I ended up learning was far more bizarre than you can imagine.

Ok, so to hook up a Sega Genesis Model 1 the best possible way, you would need the A/V cable with composite video. No problem. But if you wanted stereo sound, you'd have to run from the headphone jack on the front to your RCA connections on your tv or stereo. Not so nice. However, the Sega CD allowed you to patch directly from that unit, so that made things easier...provided you had a Sega CD. Oh, and don't forget that both of them needed power, so you had to run two bulky AC Adapters.

Things got really interesting with the 32X.

To run the 32X properly, you had to run the AV cable from the back of the Genesis to the 32X. The 32X then had an output for an AV cable to connect to your television.

But wait, you weren't done yet!

The 32X didn't output audio signal from the Model 1 Genesis to the television. You were in luck if you had a Sega CD, because you could patch from the headphone jack to the Sega CD, then run the audio from the Sega CD to your stereo or television.


And don't even get me started on the fact that you now need a 3rd block AC adapter to run the system.

A site that I came across with lots of helpful information on the subject was GameTROG, and luckily for me, they sell all the cables that I need to properly hook this stuff up. I can only hope there are more sites like this that exist for other gaming systems, since manuals are difficult to come by, and there is no such thing as tech support you can call for these older systems.

I'll leave you with one last tidbit. Sega really was the undisputed king of add-ons (though the silly attachments for the Wii are a rapidly-closing second place), and only Sega would give you something like this:

The Sega Tower of DOOM!

Thanks for reading. My next installment will hopefully delve a bit more into some classic gaming goodness, or may discuss other consoles in depth a bit more.

What would you like to hear about? I'm open to suggestions! But I won't write about pineapples. No way, no how. Not happening.
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  1. Old Comment
    Think I still have my megadrive knocking about somewhere. God knows where though.

    My first console that I bought myself, and I lost many, many hours playing Madden on that, dreaming that the real Bears could be as good as the one I was playing...
    Posted 2nd February 2011 at 11:23 PM by Willow Willow is offline

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